NY Rangers Celebrate Rehabbed & “Adopted” UES Roller Rink

Notable speakers at a Feb. 1 ribbon-cutting included the Rangers legend Brian Mullen, State Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs, and NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa. The paint company Benjamin Moore, another benefactor of the project, got plenty of shout-outs at the newly-refurbished roller rink at Stanley Isaacs Playground.

| 05 Feb 2024 | 12:49

The roller rink at Stanley Isaacs Playground on E. 96th St & F.D.R. Dr.–formally christened the Paul L. McDermott rink in 2000, to honor a longtime user and volunteer coach–has been renovated once again. This time the New York Rangers funded the project via the NYC Parks Department’s “Adopt-a-Park” program, with a little help from the paint conglomerate Benjamin Moore.

At a Feb. 1 ribbon-cutting, local politicians and former New York Rangers star Brian Mullen (who grew up playing street hockey in Hell’s Kitchen) praised the results of the project. Remarkably gifted kids, otherwise known as Junior Rangers, drove seemingly impossible trick shots into a mesh goal with whiffle balls.

An event MC established the jubilant mood of the moment by noting that “hockey is hockey, whether it’s on a sheet of ice in the world’s most famous arena, or it’s on foot right here on the Upper East Side.”

NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa spoke next, taking her time at the podium to describe the extent of the rink’s overhaul: “A new playing surface, new boards, an ADA-accessible ramp, newly painted restrooms in the playground area, and improved fencing around the rink.”

”Take a look around you to see how beautiful it is,” she said.

Mullen, who played in the NHL for 11 seasons–including four with the Rangers in the ‘80s and ‘90s–spoke about just how ugly street hockey could get back in the day. “I grew up playing in the schoolyard on the West Side. We had steps on one side, a brick wall on the other side, and two fences. Needless to say, if you got checked into the fence, steps, or wall–it hurt.” He then gestured at his pristine surroundings, saying that the new rink was “just incredible, and a safe place for kids to play.”

He then gestured at the projects building next door. The residents were his rivals back in the day, he said, and you “could’ve got four or five NHLers” out of them. “With this rink, I think the East Side is gonna have a little advantage on the West Side,” he added.

City Council Member Diana Ayala started her speech by recalling fond memories of bringing her son to Stanley Isaac’s swing set. She said that she was glad kids in the community had access to “public spaces that engage them in recreational activity, health, learning, and positivity.” Addressing the Junior Rangers, she said that she was happy for them to teach her how to play hockey.

Assembly Member–and aspiring hockey goon–Eddie Gibbs acknowledged that he’d already begun his lessons.

“I must admit, I came out this morning enthusiastic and energized to see the Junior Rangers this morning. So I volunteered as a goalkeeper. The Junior Rangers assassinated me. The young man right there in the front told me to ‘keep my day job.’ So here I am behind the podium,” he said.

Indeed, both before and after the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, Gibbs could be seen diving for balls and setting up elaborate 360-degree shots. Despite his brave efforts, the Junior Rangers pulled far ahead on the scoreboard.

Gibbs reflected that “the positive impacts of parks like this one, here in our neighborhood, is immeasurable. They enhance our quality of life, promote physical activity, and encourage healthy living.”

Community Board 8 Chair Valerie Mason got final billing at the podium. She said that her father worked for the Rangers back in the day, and that she was “so happy” to have the renovated rink within the Board’s boundaries.

Then, last but not least, Mullen was handed the classic pair of oversized golden scissors and a ribbon colored the blue of the Rangers. It took him a few snips, but the deed was done. All that was left to do was take photos with hockey sticks.